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Trafalgar Day: “Now, gentlemen, let us do something today which the world may talk of hereafter.” 20 October, 2012

Posted by Molly Joyful in Cuthbert Collingwood, Events, Nelson, Royal Navy.
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“Now, gentlemen, let us do something today which the world may talk of hereafter.”
Admiral Lord Collingwood, before the Battle of Trafalgar

“That Hamilton Woman” is mandatory viewing today. For those of you who own a version with subtitles, I have two words: “Pandemonium ensues!”

Where’s the tissue box…

If you haven’t downloaded Emma’s story “Last Service” yet, today of all days would be perfect to do so!


1. ShipRat - 23 October, 2012

“At half-past seven we observed that the Euryalus, to which ship we knew Vice-Admiral Collingwood had shifted his flag, carried the lights of the Commander-in-Chief, and that there were no lights on board the Victory; from which we were left to draw the melancholy inference that our gallant, our beloved chief, the incomparable Nelson, had fallen. But so unwilling were we to believe what we could scarcely bring ourselves to doubt, that I actually went on board the Euryalus the next morning and breakfasted with Admiral Collingwood, from whom I received orders without being once told, or even once asking the question whether Lord Nelson was slain.”

– Lt. William Pryce Cumby

2. ShipRat - 23 October, 2012

Recommended book about Trafalgar, the storm and Collingwood’s role:
Trafalgar: The Men, the Battle, the Storm
by Tim Clayton, Phil Craig (2005)

3. ShipRat - 29 October, 2012

Trafalgar – from the shore.

Travels in the south of Spain, in letters written A.D. 1809 and 1810
By William Jacob

Cadiz, Nov. 1809
. . . . [B]efore the battle of Trafalgar, when the orders arrived for the [Spanish] fleet to sail, every man, at all accustomed to the water, was impressed to man the navy; the carnage of that day consequently fell principally on the population of Cadiz . . . .
I have frequently heard people relating, with indescribable emotions, the fears, the hopes, the agitations, and the mournings, which occupied those few, but interesting days when the United Fleets of France and Spain sailed from Cadiz, amidst the prayers and benedictions of the people, with the vain expectation of vanquishing the foe who had so long held them imprisoned within their own fortifications. The day they sailed all was expectation and anxiety. The succeeding day increased the suspense, and wound up the feelings of the people almost to a state of phrenzy. The third day brought intelligence that the hostile fleets were approaching each other, with all the preparations of determined hostility. The ships were not visible from the ramparts, but the crowds of citizens assembled there had their ears assailed by the roaring of the distant cannon; the anxiety of the females bordered on insanity, but more of despair than of hope was visible in every countenance. At this dreadful moment, a sound, louder than any that had preceded it and attended with a column of dark smoke, announced that a ship had exploded. The madness of the people was turned to rage against England; and exclamations burst forth, denouncing instant death to every man who spoke the language of their enemies. Two Americans, who had mixed with the people, fled, and hid themselves, to avoid this ebullition of popular fury, which, however, subsided into the calmness of despair, when the thunder of the cannon ceased. They had no hope of conquest, no cheering expectations of greeting their victorious countrymen . . . each only hoped that the objects of his own affection were safe, and in that hope found some resource against the anticipated disgrace of the country.
The storm that succeeded the battle tended only to keep alive, through the night, the horrors of the day, and to prepare them for the melancholy spectacle of the ensuing morning, when the wrecks of their floating bulwarks were seen on shore, and some, that had escaped the battle and the storm, entering the bay to shelter themselves from the pursuit of their victorious enemy.
The feelings of strong sensibility, which had so agitated the minds of the people during the conflict, were now directed to the tender offices of humanity towards their wounded countrymen; the softer sex attended on the wharfs to assist them in landing, to convey them to the convents and the hospitals, while the priests were administering the last offices of religion to those whose departing spirits took their flight before they could reach the asylums appointed for their reception. When the first emotions had subsided, the people of Cadiz strongly manifested their contempt of the French, whom they accused of having deserted them in the hour of battle; and the attention of Lord Collingwood to the wounded Spanish prisoners, induced them to contrast the conduct of their generous enemies with that of their treacherous allies.

4. Jen - 30 October, 2012

If ShipRat’s job is to post sensible words from the man himself and his colleagues, mine must be to post completely random things from elsewhere :)

This man who walked St Cuthbert’s Way wants to nominate Collingwood for the title of ‘World’s Greatest Geordie’:
(And I did walk St Cuthbert’s Way partly because it went through Hethpool)

While in 1910 aparently *everyone* knew it was Collingwood who ‘advised country gentlemen never to walk through their fields without a pocketful of acorns’:

‘But the greatest work of Collingwood’s life was the maintenance, after the battle of Trafalgar, of the long blockade in the Mediterranean – a hymn to duty, if ever there was one, and to duty, in her plainest and most repellent guise.’

ShipRat - 3 November, 2012

Oh, I just post random things from 200 years ago. A poor substitute for present-day enjoyments like walking St.Cuthbert’s Way…. Any pictures? :-) (my usual refrain)

These are purported to be Collingwood’s oaks..
Day 3: Hethpool: Admiral Collingwood's oaks

Somewhere I read that his acorns failed to thrive because of poor soil conditions in the area.

Collingwood’s name was often linked with Nelson’s before recent times. Fortune de la paix. The only reason the average person still knows of Thomas Masterman Hardy is that kiss.

Jen - 4 November, 2012

Nothing really from Hethpool, although some from the hills around – under Wooler to Jedburgh.
Livejournal has scrambled them, so that each folder starts at the end…

I carried an acorn from Yetholm around for months afterwards, and eventually left it in St Paul’s – which I know was wrong of me :)

Here’s my first trip to Hethpool, again back to front:
(I think you’ve seen those before)

5. ShipRat - 3 November, 2012

I’m tired and didn’t write that very well… I read that the trees failed to grow to a size that would have suited the sailing navy’s needs – not that the acorns failed to grow at all.

Jen - 4 November, 2012

I’ve read that too, but I’m not sure which trees it was – the ones on Hethpool Bell were planted by Sarah after his death, I think – although I don’t think they grew very well either. Probably not so much the soil as exposure; it’s a beautiful area but about as wild and bleak as England gets.

Anyway, news that is exciting for me – I wrote a dance called The Collingwood Oaks, way back in the bicentenary year, and one of the groups I dance with is finally getting round to publishing another book of new dances (they did 5 in about 15 years, then nothing for about 12 years!), which will contain not only that, but also a dance called ‘Speedy Thomas’ which I wrote for a certain admirer of a certain Captain Cochrane.
So I and the Age of Sail are well represented – and everyone will want to know why on earth I wrote these things, and I won’t have much of an answer :)
But it is a nice dance, although I say so myself!

Jen - 4 November, 2012

Are you still at the same address, btw?

ShipRat - 9 November, 2012

My memory is shot- did you ever post video of your fabulous dance, didja didja? I want to see it…

Cochrane’s another fellow I want to find out more about.

Oh, and – Yes :-)

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